If you crave really big, good tasting fish, head to New Jersey shore points for some saltwater action.
According to On the Water Magazine, our saltwater fishing reporter, keeper fluke remain hard to come by. Anglers are getting some bigger fluke by boat fishing rough bottoms with bucktails. Beach anglers are getting a few to take home, but they’re mostly shorts.
In the meantime, the excellent bluefin tuna bite continues with sea bass limits pretty much a given as are Spanish mackerel, kingfish and small bass that populate the surf. Snappers too are in the rivers and bays and the blue claw crabs are plentiful.
Rick Hebert, at Tackle World in Rochelle Park, went fluking over the weekend and found only undersized fish. On the plus side, he believes the fluke are getting more aggressive. Now if they would only get bigger. He did say the bluefin bite remains strong with the fish now hitting jigs. Trolling them continues to work as well.
Fast talking Capt. Phil Sciortino, owner of the Tackle Box in Hazlet, said there were striped bass hitting plugs in the Sea Bright and Long Branch surf last Tuesday morning with several keepers among them. Lots of fluke are being caught but not a lot are making it to the coolers. There are also plenty of kingfish in the surf and he had good reports of Spanish mackerel farther to the south.
Capt. Phil added that snappers are all along the Bayshore and the crabbing is very good in Red Bank and Keyport. Plus, weakfish are in the Reach Channel and hitting worms and soft plastics soaked in shedder crab oil.
Mike Gleason, at Tak Waterman in Long Branch, said popping plugs and shads have been catching stripers in the surf. Tuna anglers have been picking up big epoxy jigs with a sand eel profile at the shop as they are proving very effective on bluefin tuna. Local surfcasters are suffering from the short fluke problem as well, but there are kingfish, small blues and Spanish mackerel to be had. Gleason did add that Spanish mackerel were getting a little finicky lately as to what they’ll hit. “They were jumping all over the place in Ocean Grove last Monday, but wouldn’t take the Hogy epoxy jig I was tossing. Several followed the lure right to the jetty then decided against hitting it. Include small metals like an Ava 007 or a Deadly Dick among your lures when pursuing these fish” he suggested.
Bob Matthews said Fisherman’s Den North in Atlantic Highlands, weighed in a 67-pound cobia that was caught in the Mud Hole, with a few others being caught this year. Kingfish and triggerfish are a good target as it’s been a better than average year for them as well. And the striper bite is better this week with short and keeper fish hitting small poppers, clams and sand crabs. And for the kids, the snappers are in the marina.
Capt. Pete Sykes, of Parker Pete’s Sportfishing out of Belmar, said there are keeper fluke around, you just have to work hard for them. He’s finding them on rough bottoms with bucktails enticing the bigger fish. Anglers are having no problem getting their limit of sea bass.
The only good freshwater news comes from Herb Gottshall, president of Lehigh Fish & Game Association. Gottshall informed me on Friday that they just returned from Cabela’s with 53 golden trout from their in-store pond. Cabela’s refreshes their trout stock yearly and donates those that were there to selected F&G associations for stocking in local streams. Gottschall said those 53 trophy trout were stocked in the Little Lehigh in the Lehigh Parkway section.
With the scorching hot weather, we’ve been having, and with all the weather channels telling viewers to stay hydrated by drinking liquids with water being the best, the same holds true for birds.
Water is the primary attraction for many birds. Birds are particularly attracted to the sound of moving water. So there is an inexpensive solution to this.
If you don’t have a ceramic, plastic, clay or concrete commercially made bird bath, improvise and make a shallow one out of an old bowl, deep tray even the lid of a plastic Rubbermaid trash container turned up to hold water.
There are a multitude of bird baths on the market and to go one step better, Amazon offers a solar powered bird bath insert that sprays recirculating water that’s already in the bath. Birds are attracted to the sound of moving water and a shallow basin for the birds to drink and bathe in will certainly help our feathered friends in this time of heat.
Summer is a good time to think about upgrading to a small water feature. And if you want to get fancy, many backyard birding companies have selections of water features with recirculating pumps and tubing that provide a small waterfall option or a small fountain, as do many home improvement and hardware stores. Once you’ve selected your new yard addition, and installed it with a minimum of effort the fun really begins. You can get your landscaping and design juices flowing with the idea of adding decorative rocks and plants, and other elements. It’s easy, and it will add a lot to the attractiveness of your yard, or even your deck or balcony.
Many birders opt for an artificial rock waterfall that powers water to trickle over a couple levels that lead to a shallow basin. The water is re-circulated from the basin up to the top of the waterfall via a small electronic motor – all quite lightweight, self-contained and protected in a single product. Purchasing a ready-made water feature is mostly a no muss, no fuss project.
When you have positioned your new water feature, you may be interested in enhancing the artificial rockwork to look more natural by adding a few real rocks and stones to give it a more authentic look. In fact, you can form something of a veneer of natural stone over the artificial covering. Likewise, by adding natural rocks around the water feature you can effectively expand the size of the water feature, says the folks at Duncraft, makers of bird feeders and baths.
For the next step, you may wish to add plants around your new water feature – maybe some ferns to create a tranquil setting, or some flowering plants that might attract hummingbirds. You can keep the plants you select in pots, even hiding smaller pots with more stonework, or you can accent the water feature with larger plants in decorative pots. Using decorative pots would be most impressive if you selected a water feature that is more artistic or statuary than rocklike.
Really, the light sound of a water feature is a big plus whether it’s out your window or in your yard. It’s attractive to birds, and it’s attractive to humans, at least to those who sit nearby and listen to the sound of birds that surround you. Enjoy your summer!
For those who have purchased their 2019-20 hunting licenses online instead of at a licensing agency, and if you haven’t received them as yet, you may want to contact the Pennsylvania Game Commission as the delay could affect applying for an antlerless deer license before they’re sold out in your favored Wildlife Management Unit.
“We appreciate and care about every single one of our license buyers, and it’s unfortunate that some of those who bought licenses online have experienced problems this year,” said Game Commission Executive Director Bryan Burhans. “We’ve worked with the same license vendor for several years with few issues, so the problems that emerged this year, which likely have impacted thousands of hunters, not only were unexpected, they are frustrating for the agency.
“We sincerely apologize to those hunters who have been affected and who share in our frustration,” Burhans said. “If you bought a hunting license online and did not receive it within the seven-to-10 business day window, please contact us. We can help to get you your license, and if the vendor’s error prevented you from submitting an antlerless deer license application, we can assist you in that process, as well.
The Pennsylvania Game Commission’s license division can be reached by phone at 717-787-2084 or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
As of 7-20-19, antlerless deer licenses remain available in all but one Wildlife Management (2H). Locally, WMU 5C had 26,389 remaining; 3D, 8,887 and 4C, 17,383. The first round of unsold licenses go on sale, Aug. 5 and second round begins Aug 19.
While hunters are required to have purchased a general hunting license prior to submitting their applications for antlerless licenses, they do not need the general licenses in hand to submit. Applications for antlerless licenses can be found in the Hunting & Trapping Digest, as well as on the Game Commission’s website, www.pgc.pa.gov. As long as a hunter knows his or her Customer Identification (CID) Number, which does not change from year to year, they can complete an antlerless application and send it in. The nine-digit CID number is printed on each hunting license.
In most cases, hunting licenses bought online cannot be printed at home because the licenses contain harvest tags hunters must use in the field when taking big game. When buying a license online, customers are prompted that they should receive their licenses within seven to 10 business days.
Unfortunately, the contracted vendor responsible for mailing licenses to those who purchased them online has run behind schedule in some cases. Meanwhile, a computer glitch that initially went unnoticed caused the vendor to temporarily misplace some of the online sales records
Burhans said the PGC already has stepped in to fix problems for hundreds of license buyers.
“We fully recognize some of our license buyers have been inconvenienced, which is unfortunate, but we are here to straighten out any problems they might have had,” Burhans said.
With all the heavy rain we’ve been having, stream and river fishing has been curtailed. During these times, anglers are best advised to fish lakes and ponds that aren’t affected as severely. As such, selected local waters are fishing fairly decent.
Willie Marx of Willie’s Bait & Tackle in Cementon, says the Lehigh River as surprisingly receded quickly. “I have a Hollywood block placed vertically on the shoreline below my shop, my water level measurement device. There was a foot of dirt in front of it before the rains came and afterwards, the water level was covering the first hole in the block. A day later the water level was down and dirt again was a foot in front of the block. I never saw the river drop so fast. However, it’s still a bit stained.” Willie attributes this to less rain upriver toward the Pocono’s.
Despite this, the river is fishing good for smallmouths, fallfish, rock bass and an occasional trout. Most river anglers, he said, are buying minnows and nightcrawlers and a few are using Berkley’s 3-inch, Power Trout Worm in Bubblegum scent.
Leaser Lake is fishing good for Muskie’s and largemouths, mostly all on large shiners. One customer said he latched onto a couple trout where the creek enters the lake at the North landing.
Willie also hears the Bethlehem Canal is producing large carp. And although there was no official announcement, Willie heard the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission stocked Muskies in the Lehigh in Allentown, presumably below the Hamilton Street Dam. The agency did announce it was stocking Muskie’s in the Susquehanna River this week, so maybe a few found their way to Allentown.
Rick from Rick’s Bait and Tackle in Mertztown, reports Ontelaunee Reservoir in upper Berks County has been fishing good for sizable bass. Two customers picked up several largemouths in the 5-pound range while throwing 10-inch worms in black and brown colors and Culprit’s Water Dragon Lizards in dark green. Crappies are also hitting good there.
Down at Blue Marsh Lake in Berks, two customers wade the shallows there and are picking up large and smallmouth bass on Salty Spider jigs, Z-Man’s and Chatter Baits.
Up north in Carbon County, there are still some trout remaining in Buckwa Creek, Aquashicola, Pohopoco Creek and Mahoning Creek, but few anglers are fishing for these leftovers.
In the northern lakes, Mauch Chunk has been offering some viable bass action, however, most are small and not of legal size. Panfishing though has been good around the fishing pier at the boat launch and a good place to take a youngster fishing as the action will maintain their attention. A few anglers are picking up some catfish at the boat launch during evening hours.
At Beltzville Lake, boat anglers are reported to be catching sizable stripers in the morning and evening hours when heavy recreational boat traffic is nil. A few brown trout measuring 24-26 inches are being hooked while bass action in the upper areas of the Pohopoco Bay and power lines and dam breast has picked up according to On the Water Magazine.
Anglers should not overlook local farm ponds. Many harbor some hefty largemouths and panfish that will hit mostly anything artificial or live.
I once fished a small farm pond in New Tripoli and caught, weighed and released a 3-pound smallmouth bass. I had no idea where it came from as the water there didn’t seem conducive to a smallmouth. So these rural ponds could hold some surprises, even snapping turtles.
The Ontelaunee Rod & Gun Club in New Tripoli is hosting a Sportsman Swap Meet on Sunday, September 22, from 8 a.m. – 1 p.m.
It’s an opportunity to sell your shooting, hunting, archery, fishing, hiking and outdoor related items that you no longer need.
The meet is offering three options: Option A is outside in a 10x10 space, no table, no covering for $20; Option B is a 6-foot table outside under their pavilion for $25; Option C is a 6-foot table inside the clubhouse for $30.
To sign up go to www.ClubSwapMeet.com or contact Kathy DiCarlo at 484-554-4325.
At this time of year, a good many outdoors oriented folks head to the hiking trails, be in locally in the Pocono Mountains, Hawk Mountain or the vast Appalachian Trail that runs locally through the Blue Mountains and beyond through 14 states. As such, keep in mind there are hazards along the way. Namely, rattlesnakes.
Rattlers strike fear in the hearts of many people, especially those who believe the only good snake is a dead snake. Hikers in particular, need to know that people bitten by rattlesnakes are usually harassing them or trying to kill them. In the latter cases, the rattler will often strike to protect itself. Rattlesnakes fear humans, says the Pennsylvania Game Commission, and will do anything to avoid us. The best remedy is to give them plenty of space and leave it alone. Respect the snake and it will respect you, the PGC opines.
Since rattlesnakes’ camouflage helps them blend into its surroundings, you may pass by a rattler and never know it.
Many moons ago I, along with several members of the Pennsylvania Outdoor Writers Association, were invited to a mule riding trip over some Pocono Mountain woodlands. Half way through the day long trip and at a high point in the forest, we encountered a rattler sunning itself. Our mule team of eight, passed by it along the trail about six feet away. Since mules are seemingly calm animals compared to horses, the mules never flinched and the snake didn’t rattle or move.
When you’re out hiking, its recommended to check the trail ahead of you and look close before stepping over rocks, reaching onto ledges or sitting on a rock or log.
Here’s what’s suggested to do if encountering a rattler:
*Remain calm and don’t panic. Stay at least 5 feet from the snake and make sure to give it plenty of space.
*Don’t try to kill the snake as it increases the chance the snake will bite you.
*Don’t throw anything at the snake like rocks or sticks as rattlesnakes may respond by moving toward the person throwing them.
*Alert other hikers to the snakes’ location and keep children and pets away from the area. Keep your dog, that a lot of folks hike with, on a leash as allowing your dog to roam increases the chance the dog will find the snake and get bit.
*If you hear a rattle, don’t jump or panic. Try to locate where the rattle came from before moving so as you don’t step closer to it or on top of it.
Some time ago I played spring golf in Arizona and hit my drive into a cactus filled, sandy area. When I walked to the location where the ball went out of bounds, I noticed a sign that read, “Rattlesnake’s are coming out of hibernation so beware of walking in this area.” I dropped a new ball in the fairway and took a penalty stroke as I didn’t dare venture in there.
If you haven’t yet purchased your 2019-20 Pennsylvania hunting license, now might be the time, says the Pennsylvania Game Commission.
The new license year began today, July 1, so only 2019-20 licenses are valid when hunting or using Game Commission shooting ranges. And sales of 2019-20 antlerless deer licenses are about to begin, and only hunters holding valid general licenses may apply.
Pennsylvania residents are given preference in applying for antlerless licenses, and resident hunters may apply for their first antlerless licenses beginning Monday, July 8.
Nonresidents may submit their first applications a week later, beginning Monday, July 15.
Resident applicants need to make checks and money orders payable to “County Treasurer” for $6.90 for each license they seek. The fee for nonresidents is $26.90 per license.
A list of participating county treasurers and their addresses can be found within the 2019-20 Pennsylvania Hunting & Trapping Digest, which again is being provided free of charge to all license buyers.
Applications that are incomplete or sent without proper remittance will be rejected and returned to the applicant. Applications received before the Monday start of any round also will be returned to sender.
In any WMU where antlerless licenses remain, resident and nonresident applicants may apply for a second license beginning Aug. 5, and a third license Aug. 19.
Applications during these rounds are accepted by mail only, and must be mailed with proper remittance in an official pink envelope, which ordinarily is provided by the license-issuing agent at the time a general hunting license is purchased.
In most parts of the state, hunters are limited to purchasing a total of three antlerless licenses.
However, in WMUs 2B, 5C and 5D, there is no limit to how many tags a hunter may acquire until the total allocation has been exhausted. Each hunter may apply for only one license per round in those WMUs until Aug. 5, when an unlimited number of applications can be submitted. Only three applications can be mailed in each envelope.
If licenses remain, over-the-counter sales begin Aug. 26 in WMUs 2B, 5C and 5D, and Oct. 7 in all other WMUs.
To check on licenses remaining for your WMU of choice, go to the PGC’s website and click on “Antlerless Licenses” then on “Antlerless License Availability,” to see what the allocation is and what has been sold to date.
For example, as of this posting, the following antlerless licenses remain for nearby WMUs:
3D: 25,000, 1 sold, 24,999 remain
4C: 36,000, 13 sold, 35,999 remain
5C: 70,000, 0 sold, 70,000 remain
5B: 67,000, 1 sold, 66,999
5D: 29,000, 0 sold, 79,000 remain
Nick Hromiak has been an outdoors and automotive writer for over 30 years. He's been published in numerous national and state-wide outdoor magazines and newspapers.